Tag Archives: Virginia

Reminder of what can happen: Female blogger ordered to pay US Army colonel she accused of rape $8.4 million in damages

This story is from August 2017 yet it is relevant to what happened to Justice Kavanaugh during his confirmation circus.

One woman (and the media) cannot play “judge and jury.”

From Daily Mail: A jury has ordered a female blogger to pay an Army colonel she accused of rape a total of $8.4million in damages.

Susan Shannon, 52, who now lives in Everett, Washington, first alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Army Colonel David ‘Wil’ Riggins in 1986, while they were both cadets, on her blog in 2013. (Susan claims people lied at her trial and that the judge and jurors “denied” her. See her Twitter account – last used in 2017 – here.)

She said she waited three decades to come forward about her experience because of the army’s ‘code of silence’. But Riggins, also 52, who vehemently denied the claims, said the ‘false’ allegations had cost him a sparkling military career.

The combat veteran from Alexandria had been on the cusp of being appointed to general in 2013, when Army leaders saw Shannon’s rape allegation on her blog.

His promotion was snatched away and Riggins says his name was dragged through the mud after ‘Susan Shannon decided to play judge and jury on her own.’

The decorated colonel denied all claims, telling ABC 7 On Your Side at the time: ‘I did not rape Susan Shannon. I did not sexually assault Susan Shannon. Every aspect of (her) story is verifiably false.

The jury has now ordered Shannon to pay $3.4 million in compensatory damages for injury to his reputation and lost wages, and $5 million in punitive damages, ‘to make sure nothing like this will ever happen again,’ according to the Washington Post.

Shannon said at the time she had finally been inspired to speak about her alleged experience after reading about several high profile convictions for sexual assaults in the military.

Shannon alleged she was raped by her former cadet classmate at the United States Military Academy in New York in 1986. She dropped out shortly afterwards.

Now a jewelry designer and a mother living on the West Coast, she added that the pressure in the army to keep quiet and not turn in her peers meant that she did not even report the alleged rape at her exit interview.

She made the claims on her blog Short Little Rebel in 2013 – which followed the announcement that Colonel Riggins had been nominated for general.

Shannon denied having any knowledge of his nomination until she was contacted by Army officials investigating her blog post. 

Stars and Stripes has an extensive write-up of this story here.

DCG

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Envelopes sent to Mattis, Navy chief test positive for ricin

You don’t mess with Mad Dog.

From NY Post: Two envelopes addressed to Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson have initially tested positive for the deadly poison ricin at the Pentagon’s mail facility, according to a report.

The packages, which were delivered Monday, were intercepted before making it into the sprawling headquarters of the Defense Department in Virginia near Washington, DC, spokesman Chris Sherwood said Tuesday.

They triggered alarms as they underwent a security screening at the off-site mail processing center, according to the Military Times.

A defense official told CNN that the intended recipients were Mattis and Richardson.

“On Monday, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency detected a suspicious substance during mail screening at the Pentagon’s remote screening facility,” Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

“The envelopes were taken by the FBI this morning for further analysis,” he said, adding that all US Postal Service mail received at the screening facility Monday was under quarantine and posed no threat to Pentagon personnel.

The FBI said in a statement that as the envelopes are undergoing further testing, “we will have no further comment.”

Ricin, a highly toxic compound extracted from castor beans, has been used in terror plots and is lethal in tiny doses if swallowed, inhaled or injected. It is 6,000 times more potent than cyanide.

If ingested, it causes nausea, vomiting and internal bleeding of the stomach and intestines, followed by failure of the liver, spleen and kidneys, and death by collapse of the circulatory system.

DCG

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Separated families: MS-13 gang members, including 10 illegal aliens, charged in death of Virginia teens

dead teens mendez and triminio fairfax county police dept photo

Permanently separated from their families: Mendez (l) and Triminio (r)/Fairfax County Police Dept. photo


From Fox News: Eleven MS-13 gang members – all of whom are illegal immigrants aliens except one – are facing life in prison after being charged in the kidnappings and deaths of two teens whose bodies were dug up in a Virginia park last year.
The ages of the male gang members charged Friday ranged from 20 to 27. All of them are from El Salvador and only one – who is believed to have fled the country – is not in police custody, according to NBC Washington.
Police uncovered the bodies of 17-year-old Edvin Escobar Mendez and 14-year-old Sergio Arita Triminio at Holmes Run Park in March 2017 after receiving a tip. The two teens disappeared just weeks apart the prior year.
After Mendez vanished and was reported missing by his family, his brother tracked down Triminio – one of his friends – who revealed to him that Mendez was “abducted or killed” because the MS-13 members thought he was allied with a rival gang.
Two days after that reported conversation, Triminio, who lived near Holmes Run Park, disappeared while taking out the trash. “He never came back,” his mother said.
Investigators believe Triminio was killed because the MS-13 members thought he was working as a police informant, a federal indictment said. A court-ordered electronic monitoring device that Triminio was wearing, per his probation orders, stopped working the day he vanished, the documents added.
All but one of the men facing the conspiracy to kidnap charges are reported to be illegal immigrants aliens, and one suspect is facing a conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering charge.
The names of those charged are Elmer Zelaya Martinez, 27, Erick Palacios Ruiz, 20, Ronald Herrera Contreras, 20, Josue Vigil Mejia, 21, Henry Zelaya Martinez, 24, Oscar Contreras Aguilar, 20, Yonathan Melgar Martinez, 21, Pablo Miguel Barrera Velasco, 20, Anderson Villatoro, 21, Francisco Avila Avalos, 20 and Fredys Baires Abarca, 20. Their gang member aliases included nicknames such as “Killer”, “Horror” and “Lil Clandestino”.
All of them are charged with conspiracy to kidnap, while Aguilar is also charged with conspiracy to commit murder in aid ofracketeering.
MS-13 was started by Central American immigrants, mainly from El Salvador, in Los Angeles in the 1980s and has expanded to include Hondurans, Guatamalans, Mexicans and other Central and South Americans.
President Trump’s Justice and Homeland Security Departments have made targeting the gang a top priority. The president himself has used the word “animals” to describe the gang.
DCG

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Mark Ruffalo calls for Donald Trump to be removed from office

mark ruffalo
Keep it up Hollyweird. Your antics are going to ensure another four years of a Trump presidency.
From Fox News: Mark Ruffalo called for President Trump to be removed from office during a march against white supremacy.
The “Hulk” actor was among activists marching from Charlottesville, Virginia, to the nation’s capital to condemn white supremacy sentiments recently on display in the Virginia city.
The actor tweeted photos of himself Thursday at “The March to Confront White Supremacy.”
In a since-deleted tweet captured by Breitbart, Ruffalo said he is “marching because a central demand of this march is for Donald Trump to be removed from office following his statement supporting white supremacists and neo-Nazis.”
In a statement, Ruffalo said he’s marching in memory of Heather Heyer, who died when a car plowed into a group of people protesting the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12. Ruffalo also condemned Trump’s response that “both sides” were to blame for the violence.
Ruffalo says there’s “no place for racism, violence, and hatred” in the country.
Organizers said they had to stop Wednesday’s portion of the march early because they received threats of an armed person waiting for them further along the route.
DCG

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Aetna drops last 2 state markets under Affordable Care Act

Obama_laughing
Obamacare going as planned. Let’s hope we can get rid of this monstrosity.
From Yahoo: While Republicans rewrite the Affordable Care Act in Washington, the future of the current law has grown hazier with the nation’s third-largest health insurer completely divorcing itself from state-based insurance markets.
Aetna said late Wednesday that it won’t sell individual coverage next year in its two remaining states — Nebraska and Delaware — after projecting a $200 million loss this year. It had already dropped Iowa and Virginia for next year. The insurer once sold the coverage in 15 states, but slashed that to four after losing about $450 million in 2016.
The government-backed marketplaces are a pillar of the Obama-era federal law because they allow millions of people to buy health insurance with help from income-based tax credits. But insurers like Humana, and now Aetna, have been fleeing that market, and the remaining coverage options are growing thin. Other companies like the Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer Anthem say they are wary of returning without a guarantee that the government will provide cost-sharing subsidies that reduce expenses like co-payments. Those are separate from the tax credits that help pay premiums.
The White House has assured lawmakers it will continue paying the subsidies, but it has offered no long-term guarantee.
About 12 million people bought coverage for this year on the exchanges, and every market had at least one insurer offering coverage. But a growing number were down to one.
Companies are in the middle of figuring out their prices and coverage plans for next year, and insurance experts expect some holes to develop in those marketplaces.
“All it takes is one insurance company to exit, and that can create panic for other insurers and they pull out too,” said Cynthia Cox, a health insurance expert for the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies health care. “Insurers don’t want to be the last one holding the bag.”
The federal law prevents insurers from rejecting patients based on their health, so if competitors pull out, the last insurer may be left covering all the high-cost patients in that market.
Metropolitan or highly populated areas are still expected to draw several insurers. But rural areas may not be attractive to insurers looking to cut losses. They generally have a smaller, older population.
Ultimately, insurers with the most common brand in health insurance, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, will decide the fate of the marketplaces. Many of those plans specialize in individual insurance and have a long-standing presence in their markets. They also are the only remaining option on exchanges in nearly a third of the nation’s more than 3,100 counties.
DCG

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Michelle Obama's healthy school meals are set to be scrapped by Trump's agriculture secretary next week

michelle obama lunch2

Say bye bye to Michelle Obama’s mandated school lunches

Another Obama legacy bites the dust.
From Daily Mail: Michelle Obama‘s healthy school lunches could be on the chopping block with the Trump administration expected to announce new measures as early as Monday to ease the program’s regulations.
The US Department of Agriculture announced on Friday that its secretary Sonny Perdue is set to introduce new standards that will give schools more flexibility in relation to the National School Lunch Program. It is not yet clear how the rules will change school lunches or the regulations.
The announcement will take place at the Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Virginia, where Perdue and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) will eat lunch with the students, The Hill reports.
Republicans have long held concerns about the school lunch program, which was spearheaded by the former First Lady to establish new healthy eating standards and curb childhood obesity.
But the more nutritious meals, which required more fruit, vegetables and whole grains, have not always been popular with schoolchildren.
The regulations pushed by Mrs. Obama led to the sarcastic hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama flooding the internet with unimpressed students sharing photos of their lunch.
Some pictures shared as recently as last week show piles of mushy lunches, small portions and the kind of fare that left some saying even ‘prisoners eat better food.’ 
Read the rest of the story here.
DCG

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US appeals court upholds Maryland assault weapons ban

debbie ar15

Me shooting a “weapon of war.” Molṑn Labé.

Next stop: SCOTUS.
From Fox News: Maryland’s ban on 45 kinds of assault weapons and its 10-round limit on gun magazines were upheld Tuesday by a federal appeals court in a decision that met with a strongly worded dissent.
In a 10-4 ruling, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., said the guns banned under Maryland’s law aren’t protected by the Second Amendment.
“Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war,” Judge Robert King wrote for the court, adding that the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller explicitly excluded such coverage.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, who led the push for the law in 2013 as a state senator, said it’s “unthinkable that these weapons of war, weapons that caused the carnage in Newtown and in other communities across the country, would be protected by the Second Amendment.”
“It’s a very strong opinion, and it has national significance, both because it’s en-banc and for the strength of its decision,” Frosh said, noting that all of the court’s judges participated.
Judge William Traxler issued a dissent. By concluding the Second Amendment doesn’t even apply, Traxler wrote, the majority “has gone to greater lengths than any other court to eviscerate the constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms.” He also wrote that the court did not apply a strict enough review on the constitutionality of the law.
“For a law-abiding citizen who, for whatever reason, chooses to protect his home with a semi-automatic rifle instead of a semi-automatic handgun, Maryland’s law clearly imposes a significant burden on the exercise of the right to arm oneself at home, and it should at least be subject to strict scrutiny review before it is allowed to stand,” Traxler wrote.
National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said, “It is absurd to hold that the most popular rifle in America is not a protected arm' under the Second Amendment."</strong> She added that the majority opinion "clearly ignores the Supreme Court's guidance from District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects arms that arein common use at the time for lawful purposes like self-defense.”‘
The NRA estimates there are 5 million to 10 million AR-15s — one of the weapons banned under Maryland’s law — in circulation in the United States for lawful purposes. Asked about an appeal, Baker said the NRA is exploring all options.
But Elizabeth Banach, executive director of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, said the decision is
“overwhelming proof that reasonable measures to prevent gun violence are constitutional.”
“Maryland’s law needs to become a national model of evidence-based policies that will reduce gun violence,” Banach wrote in a statement.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake upheld the ban in 2015, but a divided three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that she didn’t apply the proper legal standard. The panel sent the case back to Blake and ordered her to apply “strict scrutiny,” a more rigorous test of a law’s constitutionality. The state appealed to the full appeals court.
Maryland passed the sweeping gun-control measure after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that killed 20 children and six educators in Connecticut. King mentioned the massacre at the start of the ruling.
“Both before and after Newtown, similar military-style rifles and detachable magazines have been used to perpetrate mass shootings in places whose names have become synonymous with the slaughters that occurred there,” King wrote. He listed the 2012 shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado; the December 2015 shootings in San Bernardino, California; and the shootings last year at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub, where 49 people were killed and 53 injured.
King also noted that enacting the law is “precisely the type of judgment that legislatures are allowed to make without second-guessing by a court.”
“Simply put, the State has shown all that is required: a reasonable, if not perfect, fit between the (Firearms Safety Act) and Maryland’s interest in protecting public safety,” King wrote.
DCG

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Sole Republican elector who plans to vote against Trump is a 9/11 faker?

Chris Suprun

Chris Suprun


From Daily Mail: The Republican elector from Texas who refuses to cast his vote for Donald Trump at the Electoral College wrongly claimed to be a first responder during the September 11 attacks.
Chris Suprun, a Texas elector, said he was one of the first on scene after a third plane flew into the Pentagon on 9/11. But in fact he was not employed as a firefighter at the Virginia department he often credits until a month after the attacks, according to an investigation by WFAA. The fire department did not even attend the Pentagon on 9/11.
Suprun portrayed himself as a heroic firefighter in a widely-shared editorial this month for The New York Times, in which he declared he would not be voting for Trump, calling him unqualified, unfit and ‘dismissive’ of his own conflicts of interest.
The 42-year-old, from Dallas, is the sole Republican to publicly announce his ballot would not be cast for the president-elect. He also co-signed a letter with nine Democratic electors which has been widely described as ‘bipartisan’ calling for briefings before the college voted from intelligence agencies on claims Russia hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails in an attempt to tip the election in Trump’s favor.
Suprun is just one of 38 electors in the Lone Star state, where Trump won by more than nine points.
chris-suprun
The faithless elector detailed his criticism of Trump in the Times, writing: ‘Fifteen years ago, as a firefighter, I was part of the response to the Sept. 11 attacks against our nation. That attack and this year’s election may seem unrelated, but for me the relationship becomes clearer every day.’
Suprun claimed to be a first responder with the Manassas Park, Virginia, fire department and has made at least two appearances at Major League Baseball games where he was introduced as a 9/11 veteran and threw out the first pitch. He also claims to have founded the nonprofit Never Forget, and says he is a licensed paramedic.
But a first responder who knows Suprun told WFAA a different story.
The responder, who spoke under anonymity, said: ‘He claimed to be a first responder with the Manassas Park [Virginia] Fire Department on September 11, 2001 and personally told us stories “I was fighting fire that day at the Pentagon”.
‘No, I was on a medic unit that day at the Pentagon and you make a phone call to Manassas Park and you find out that he wasn’t even employed there until October 2001.’ The City of Manassas Park confirmed that Suprun was hired on October 10, 2001, a month after the September 11 attacks.
The city’s fire chief told WFAA that the department never even responded to the Pentagon or other 9/11 sites.
‘It’s no different than stolen valor for the military; dressing up and saying “Hey, I earned a Purple Heart” when you weren’t even in combat,’ the first responder told WFAA. ‘There’s a big difference between shopping at Old Navy and being a Navy SEAL.’
In his editorial, Suprun credits former President George W Bush for leading the nation through 9/11 in his New York Times op-ed. ‘George W. Bush is an imperfect man, but he led us through the tragic days following the attacks,’ he writes. ‘His leadership showed that America was a great nation.
‘That was also the last time I remember the nation united. I watch Mr. Trump fail to unite America and drive a wedge between us. Mr. Trump goes out of his way to attack the cast of ‘Saturday Night Live’ for bias. He tweets day and night, but waited two days to offer sympathy to the Ohio State community after an attack there. He does not encourage civil discourse, but chooses to stoke fear and create outrage.”
‘This is unacceptable. For me, America is that shining city on a hill that Ronald Reagan envisioned. It has problems. It has challenges. These can be met and overcome just as our nation overcame Sept. 11.’
Read the rest of the story here.
Suprun has responded to the above story:
That story exhibits a reckless disregard for the truth,” Suprun wrote on Reddit of the WFAA piece. Noting that he had never claimed to be a first responder with Manassas Park, Suprun said at the time of the attacks he was a volunteer firefighter for the “Dale City Fire Dept.” and was later hired by Manassas Park. “We’ve corrected the record with the journalist who wrote that story, and if he has any integrity, he’ll reveal his anonymous sources and let everyone have open debate,” he wrote. “I know where I was on that tragic day.” Even if the debate takes place, the allegation that Suprun was less than truthful raises questions about how electors are chosen.
DCG

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DC-area mayor (and a teacher) charged with offering meth for sex

Demorat Scott Silverthorne/Facebook Photo

Demorat Scott Silverthorne/Facebook Photo


Via NY Post: A northern Virginia mayor is facing drug charges after police say he was arrested in a meth-for-sex sting.
Fairfax County Police said in a statement Friday that investigators looking into a possible methamphetamine distributor made contact with a suspect who turned out to be Fairfax Mayor R. Scott Silverthorne through a website used to arrange sexual encounters between men.
Police say Silverthorne indicated he could provide methamphetamine for sexual encounters and undercover detectives agreed to meet.
Police say 50-year-old Silverthorne met the detectives at a hotel Thursday and was arrested after he gave them methamphetamine. Silverthorne, who is also a substitute teacher, is charged with felony distribution of methamphetamine and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
Police say detectives located Silverthorne’s two suppliers and they were also arrested and charged.
DCG

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Appeals court says Virginia high school's anti-transgender bathroom rule was discrimination, sets precedent that could affect North Carolina's anti-LGBT law

Last September I told you about Gavin Grimm, who was born female but identifies as male.  He/she had sued school officials over a policy requiring him to use either the girls’ restrooms or a single-stall, unisex bathroom open to all students. The special snowflake got his/her way yesterday via a court ruling.

Gavin Grimm

Gavin Grimm

Via Daily Mail: A transgender Virginia teen won the right to use the boy’s toilets at his high school Tuesday in an appeals court decision that will affect four other states – including North Carolina.
Tuesday’s decision came from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that Gloucester County School Board was discriminating against Gavin Grimm, 16, by making him use female toilets in line with his biological sex.
That decision establishes legal precedent in all five states of the 4th Circuit, including North Carolina, which on April 1 passed a bill forcing people to use bathrooms based on the sex on their birth certificate.
Grimm, who was born female but identifies as male, was allowed to use the boys’ bathroom at the school for several weeks in 2014, until parents complained. (Grimm, 16, told his parents he was transgender in April 2014. They helped him legally change his name, and a psychologist diagnosed him with gender dysphoria, characterized by stress stemming from conflict between one’s gender identity and assigned sex at birth. Grimm had his breasts removed and began hormone treatment to deepen his voice and give him a more masculine appearance.)
He was then told he could use either the girls’ bathroom or a single private stall – a policy he called stigmatizing. School officials said it respected the privacy of all students.
The U.S. Justice Department filed a ‘statement of interest’ in Grimm’s case in July, saying that not allowing students to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity amounts to sex discrimination.
Gavin Grimm

Gavin Grimm

And now Grimm has won in the state of Virginia – creating a precedent that may concern politicians in neighboring North Carolina. On March 25, North Carolina’s House of Representatives voted 82-26 for House Bill 2, which ordered public schools, government agencies and public college to designate bathrooms by biological sex stated on a person’s birth certificate. It also removed protections that stopped businesses discriminating against people based on their sexuality or gender.
Now, however, precedent has been set in all 4th Circuit states: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Maryland. North Carolina Governor Pat McRory is to meet with house attorneys to see how Tuesday’s decision will affect the bill that he signed, North Carolina News reported.
And back on March 26, Joshua Block, attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, told The Citizen-Times: ‘What the court rules in Gavin’s case will likely be precedent for district courts in North Carolina that they will have to follow. It does seem odd that even though the governor and legislature presumably know a decision is going to come down from the Fourth Circuit, that they rushed in to enact this sweeping policy without seeing how the court rules.  It seems like they are exposing the state to a lot of legal liability for no reason.’
Read the whole story here.
DCG

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